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Extremely endangered Amur tiger dies in 'freak accident' ahead of dental surgery

Jess Battison

Published 
| Last updated 

Extremely endangered Amur tiger dies in 'freak accident' ahead of dental surgery

Featured Image Credit: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Amur tigers, also known as Siberian tigers, are some of the world’s biggest cats. But they are also incredibly endangered.

According to the Zoological Society London, there are estimated to be between only 265-486 in their natural habitat in the Russian Far East.

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Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (CMZoo) in Colorado had been home to a two-year-old female Amur tiger since March this year, after she moved from her mother at The Toronto Zoo.

But tragically Mila the tiger died on Friday 25 August in a freak accident.

She had been making ‘great progress’ according to the team at CMZoo, who describe her as ‘feisty and intelligent’.

They had been preparing to introduce Mila to their community, with her close to being ‘out where guests could see her’.

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But this was being delayed by a dental issue suffered by the tiger.

In their announcement on Facebook, CMZoo said the infection could be ‘fatal’ and had established voluntary injection training with Mila.

Mila died on Friday 25 August. Credit: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Mila died on Friday 25 August. Credit: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

So, on Friday, they were able to inject her with the initial anesthesia for dental surgery.

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After receiving this, the 270-pound tiger jumped up on a bench ‘where she began to lay down and peacefully let the anesthetic drugs take effect’.

However, ‘less than a minute’ after lying down, tragedy struck.

Mila slipped from the waist-high bench, causing a fatal spinal injury.

The zoo said: “It was impossible from a human safety standpoint to stop her tragic fall.”

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Bob Chastain, president and CEO of CMZoo, said: “Our team delivered exactly the right amount of drugs to a very calm tiger who had trained for this moment. We have successfully anesthetized countless tigers in this same den, and have never experienced an accident like this.

“We never take decisions to anesthetize an animal for a procedure lightly, and this is a tragic example of why.”

Mila was born at The Toronto Zoo. Credit: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Mila was born at The Toronto Zoo. Credit: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

With less than around 500 Amur tigers in their native habitats, there are about 100 of them in human care, at zoos and aquariums.

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Mila was the only surviving cub in her litter when she was born at Toronto Zoo in April 2021.

She was moved to CMZoo on a future breeding recommendation but was yet to meet the male tiger, Chewy, as Amur tigers are solitary animals.

The CEO of Toronto Zoo, Dolf DeJong, said: “Watching Mila transform from a playful and curious young cub to an independent and often feisty young adult was an incredible experience for me, the Zoo team and the Toronto community.

“She will be deeply missed by all.”

Chastain added: “Not only was she an internationally beloved individual who defied the odds as a cub and survived to adulthood, but she was here on a mission to save her own species.”

Topics: News, Animals, US News

Jess Battison
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